Woody species, a trump to protect.
A socioeconomic survey of farmer preferences for tree species was carried out in five villages (124 persons were interviewed, representing all farming families in the area) near Niono, Mali, in 1990. The survey formed part of an agroforestry project which aims to improve crop yields and increase forage supply in the region. Data were collected on ethnic group, family size, livestock, farming practices, and preferences for indigenous or exotic tree species; they included a field inventory of trees. Twenty-eight tree species were identified in the field, and these are considered in three groups: (1) the most common species, which also tended to be the most highly valued, often multipurpose trees (>100 individuals counted, found on 31-74% of land holdings) - in descending numerical order, Sclerocarya birrea, Adansonia digitata, Acacia albida [Faidherbia albida] and Combretum galazense [Combretum gazalense]; (2) less common (found on 10-18% of holdings), but still considered important - Vitalaria paradoxa [Vitellaria paradoxa], Anogeissus leiocarpus, Cordyla pennata [Cordyla africana], Balanites aegyptiaca, Tamarindus indica and Diospyros mespiliformis; and (3) rare (1-14 individuals), found on only 1-4% of holdings. Provision of foliage for human and/or animal consumption (e.g. Adansonia digitata and T. indica) was considered one of the most important and valued features of trees by respondents. Other uses included; fruit and oil seed production (for animal or human consumption, for processing, or for medicinal use); timber (Piliostigma reticulatum [Bauhinia reticulata], Terminalia avicennioides, Commiphora africana); and fuelwood or charcoal production (Anogeissus leiocarpus, B. reticulata, T. avicennioides, Cardenalia ternifolia [Gardenia ternifolia], Entada africana and Pterocarpus erinaceus). The survey suggested that fruit-producing trees would be the most suitable indigenous species to consider for development; for introduced species, priority should be given to those that enhance soil fertility, and/or forage species.